Each month, we take 5 minutes to ask a lettings industry expert 5 things. This month we are lucky to be talking to Director Kareen Lawrence of Executive Property Management Solutions.

Q. Hi Kareen, thank you so much for your time today! You’re obviously super-busy so we’ll just start I think! We’ve seen a fair amount of tax and regulatory changes in recent times – with more coming in to place this year. Some reports are suggesting that these changes are causing many landlords to sell up and leave the sector. Is this something that you’ve noticed personally? What do you think will be the effects of this on the rental sector?

A. I have noticed this yes. Very much so. It seems to me like landlords are being penalized for renting properties, especially with the Tenant Fee ban coming into force. Landlords are now weighing up their costs more, which in return is showing fewer new landlords come into the sector.

Q. Thanks! So whilst we’re on the subject of disenchanted landlords – it’s just been predicted that we will soon witness a huge number of properties being removed from the long-term lettings market and in to short-term lets such as Airbnb. This is thought to be down to Government policy favouring holiday lets over long-term rentals. Would you agree with this?

A. I don’t know that we’ll necessarily see a massive increase in short-term lets – but I do think that increasing levels of legislation are making it more and more difficult for landlords. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some landlords swapping to short-term lets (and yes, government policy does favour this) – but the way things are now, I think they’re more likely to just exit the market altogether, unless things change.

Q. Interesting! Something that’s been cropping up a lot about recently in the sector is the idea of a rent freeze? Sian Berry, the Green Party’s candidate for the Mayor of London has called for a rent freeze in London – as has Sadiq Khan. Is this something that could actually happen do you think? And what would be the consequences?

A. It would be interesting to see how they foresee this working, as London is such a large area and different parts are higher than others. Plus if you force rent down – landlords are potentially not going to want to rent their properties, meaning that there’d be a property shortage. So landlords would be losing out again and renters would also suffer. I cant see it working myself. Surely the answer would to be for the government to provide affordable homes?

Q.  Or supplement landlords I guess. Now another grey area at the moment seems to be the future of Right to Rent checks after Britain leaves the EU. The government don’t seem to be any closer to confirming plans for this. How do you envisage things working out?

A. Well as far as I’m aware, I think the plans so far are that EU citizens with settled status will be provided with an online code that proves their right to residency? But then there are all kinds of issues around that – like landlords being reluctant to do online checks, which in turn has a discriminatory effect. We’ll have to wait and see. I’ll be interested to find out.

Q. Same. Now… I left it till last, but I can’t leave it out: Coronavirus! Has your business been affected by this? And what do you think will be the effects on the rental market?

A. We’ve been really lucky so far but we’re being extra careful now, like everyone else. I think it will effect everything – how could it not! I mean unless they get the vaccine sorted. A lot of businesses will suffer. I think the government are going to have to step up and help with rent etc in some cases. I don’t know what will happen, but I’m sure we’ll all cope!

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A huge thank you to Kareen for taking the time out of her day to talk to us. You can further connect with Kareen over at Executive Property Management Solutions. And of course, if you want to work with an inventory clerks who truly understand the sector, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.